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What’s a Diversity Statement and How Do You Make Yours Stand Out?

What’s a Diversity Statement and How Do You Make Yours Stand Out?

  • Education
  • Student Tips
Alyssa WalkerApr 10, 2018

Good law schools want to create rich learning environments with a variety of perspectives.

One gauge? The diversity statement. The goal? To highlight your past experiences and show how they make you a diverse law school candidate with a fresh perspective.

Want to write one? Let’s take a closer look at diversity statements and how to write one that illuminates your strength as a law school candidate.

What is a diversity statement?

It’s not only about race and ethnicity. For starters, anyone can write a diversity statement—you don’t have to be an under-represented minority.

Diversity statements relate to your gender, class, abilities, religious beliefs, age, and the circumstances or experiences that set you apart from the mainstream.

Did you grow up in a non-traditional home? Are you a first-generation college student in your family? Is English your second language?

How have your life experiences shaped your outlook, life, or career goals?

How do these experiences make you a diverse candidate?

It’s one tool for law schools to ensure diversity in the student body—and it’s optional.

Diversity statements aren’t required.

If you’re uncomfortable or unsure, then you probably shouldn’t do it. Why not? You won’t lose by not doing one, but you can lose by writing a bad one.

If it’s forced, then an admissions counselor will know and it could count against you.

If it’s natural and feels right, do it.

Ready to go?

Great. Now you just have to figre out how to make yours stand out.

Recommended reading: How to choose a law school?

How can you make yours stand out?

1. Make it personal

We know, you already wrote a personal statement. Your approach here is a bit different though. IN your personal statement, you show an admissions committee how your experiences have prepared you for law school.

In your diversity statement, you need to show how your personal experiences have made you a mature person who has a fresh perspective on diversity.

Because it’s so personal, it may also broach some sensitive topics. That’s good—as long as you do a good job.

2. Show how your background shaped you

Be careful here. Explaining is one thing. Telling a story is another. Best to explain by telling a story. It’s easy to slip into lecture mode easily here.

You need to show how being different in some way made you stronger—and therefore more likely to make a positive contribution to law school.

3. Show you’re not a stereotype

If you have differences that make you different from the mainstream, show how you’re unique within those differences. What makes you different from a stereotype? You know, but your readers may not. Show it in your writing.

4. Keep it short, sweet, and concise

Your personal statement should probably run about 2 pages, double-spaced. Your diversity statement should be about half that. One double-spaced page should do it.

What does this mean? It means you have to get specific quickly.

Talk about one event, one anecdote—and explain how that event or story defined you.

Keep your tone positive, and your mission clear.

5. Don’t just write a list of hardships

It’s tempting to write a laundry list of obstacles.

Don’t do it.

Don’t repeat anything in your personal statement.

In a recent article in US News and World Report, Matt Shinners, associate director of pre-law programs at the test-prep company Manhattan Prep said, “I'm looking to see that the applicant has told a story about themselves that's got an arc from where they came from to how that's impacted the things that they've done and the way that they approach the world and why that arc should continue into law school.”

He added, “It's better to have no diversity statement than to have a weak diversity statement.”

Your take-aways? If you can write a good one, do it. If you’re hesitating and unsure? Don’t.

Shinners also said, “It's better to have no diversity statement than to have a weak diversity statement.”

Know that you can bring something unique to the table. It should be different from your personal statement in that it speaks not only to your ability to succeed in law school but your ability to see different perspectives.

Go forth and write.

Alyssa Walker

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.